Perhaps the best-documented epidemic in the history of medicine, kuru has been studied for more than fifty years by international investigators from medicine and the human sciences. This significantly revised edition of the landmark anthropological classic Kuru Sorcery brings up to date the anthropological contribution to understanding disease, the medical research that resulted in two medical Nobel Prizes, and the views of the Fore people who endured the epidemic and who still believe that sorcerers, rather than cannibalism, caused kuru. The kuru epidemic serves as a prism through which to see how Fore notions of disease causation bring into single focus their views about the body, the world of social and spiritual relations, and changes in economic and political conditions-aspects of thought and behaviour that Western medicine keeps separate.
“This updated edition of Lindenbaum’s classic, Kuru Sorcery, is a richly woven account of the multiple dimensions of the Kuru epidemic: the perspectives of the Fore who are so devastated by the scourge; the unfolding scientific understanding of its origin; the transformation of the Fore economy, religious rituals, and social life; and the motley cast of outsiders—missionaries, anthropologists, biomedical scientists, colonial administrators—whose presence in one way or another illuminated its causes and contributed to its end. Rarely has the long-term follow up of an ethnographic study produced so comprehensive and compelling a picture of the interplay of history, globalization, colonialism, and science. Foremost of its accomplishments is that we hear the voices, listen to the understandings, and vividly see the lived experience of the Fore themselves.”
—Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University
“A founding charter for medical anthropology, Kuru Sorcery remains a model for anyone seeking to disentangle the complex and sticky relations of culture and disease. Proving that kuru is still good to think with, this new edition, based on Lindenbaum’s long-term engagement with the Fore people, reveals fresh insights into global biomedicine and human suffering.”
—Warwick Anderson, author of The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen
“Kuru Sorcery is an extraordinary ethnographic resource for teaching global health and applied anthropology and encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to address complex health challenges. Dr. Lindenbaum shares her methodological approach as an anthropologist to investigate the relationship between culture and health and demonstrates the value of this approach to medical and health sciences. The book underscores the importance of cultural competency by working with local culture and including the people in the search to understand and improve their own health.”
—Michael W. Diamond, Northwestern University
Preface 1 Introduction 2 Kuru and Sorcery 3 Other Medical Disorders 4 Extensions of Self 5 Etiology and World View 6 Ideology in Transition 7 The Crisis Years 8 The Kibungs 9 Status and the Sorcerer 10 Polluters, Witches, and Sorcerers 11 Conclusion 1979 12 Telling History 13 The End of Kuru Epilogue